Preparing for your Winter 2021 co-op work term

Students gathered with text overtop saying, The world of work is changing. We'll navigate it together.

Updated October 1, 2020

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, we are continuing to work with faculty and campus partners to help you complete your work term and stay on track to fulfill your degree requirements. Please continue to check this page for updates leading up to your Winter 2021 work term.

If you have any questions or concerns, please send a message to your co-op advisor via WaterlooWorks.

Note: These changes are in place only for the Winter 2021 work term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be reviewed each term until no longer required.

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Flexible Pathways for students with work terms in Winter 2021

We know the Winter 2021 work term will likely present unique challenges for you and your employer. To address that, we’ve developed a number of flexible pathways to help you complete your work term.

Note: Students in the following programs should reach out to their faculty/program advisors to learn about the flexible pathways in place for their programs:


Procedures for remote interviews

All co-op interviews arranged through WaterlooWorks will continue to be conducted remotely via phone or webcam. This means that no campus facilities are available to be used for interviews, regardless of the interview type – you can proceed with your interviews remotely from a location where you feel safe.

Remote interview instructions:

  • All students will be asked to complete a form in WaterlooWorks to indicate where you are located and how employers can reach you. Please keep this up-to-date!
  • All scheduled interviews in WaterlooWorks will show the method listed as “Phone” and the interview room listed as “Contact Direct.”
  • If you are selected for an interview, more detailed instructions will be sent via WaterlooWorks.
  • An employer may send you a video link directly if they prefer.

If you need help with your interview skills, you can access Centre for Career Action services virtually. 

In addition, if you have questions about a scheduled interview or interview conflict, click the "Send a message" button in WaterlooWorks and select "Interviews" as the category. This will direct your message to one of our interview coordinators who can help answer your questions.

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Current University travel policy: Guidelines for work terms based on student and employer locations

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada is currently advising that you avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice. In alignment with this advisory, Waterloo has suspended all University-related travel outside of Canada until further notice, including co-op work terms.

This decision follows direction from the University travel policy, the Faculties and our existing travel advisory policy for international work terms. We recognize that this may change as the situation evolves, but for now we continue to monitor current travel advisories and base our decisions around what is known and supported by our University and government administrations. We will be in touch with students and employers if anything changes.

Work terms outside of Canada have always been assessed based on the risk level published by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) travel advisories, in conjunction with any overall directives from our central University leadership. When the GAC risk level for a country/location is listed as high ("Avoid non-essential travel" or "Avoid all travel") prior to the start of a work term, the University will not approve a work term for co-op credit. This applies to all individuals, regardless of citizenship or intended destination.

Given Waterloo’s current stance around international travel and GAC’s listing of all locations as high risk, we are required to follow that direction and cannot currently approve work terms that require students to actively travel to locations outside Canada for the Winter 2021 term (some exceptions apply - see below).

Since we cannot confidently predict when this will change, students are advised to prioritize jobs that can be completed from Canada if they are already in Canada. Winter 2021 work terms with employers based outside of Canada, including an Arrange Own Job (AOJ), can still be approved for co-op credit if employers can hire you to their Canadian office or allow you to legally work remotely from within Canada.

Work terms abroad: Exceptions for Winter 2021  co-op credit

We understand that each student’s specific situation is unique and have worked with University leadership to establish exceptions for the following students to receive credit for work terms outside of Canada:

  • International visa students who would like to complete their work terms from their home countries/locations (learn more via the international student section below).
  • Students who left Canada before June 1, 2020 and since have been abroad (applies to all students, regardless of citizenship).

In these exceptional situations, co-op credit will be assessed on a case-by-case basis with safety as our primary consideration. Factors such as the location’s level of risk before COVID-19 and other safety considerations will be taken into account when determining credit eligibility. Enhanced risk management procedures will be required before leaving Canada, or within one week of reaching your destination.

Additional notes:

  • In all cases, we cannot grant credit to in-person or remote-within-location work terms where students will be based in locations that were originally (pre-COVID-19 advisory levels) listed as high risk (“Avoid non-essential travel” or “Avoid all travel”) on the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) website.
  • These situation-specific considerations are in place for Winter 2021 work terms only. The University’s stance around Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 work term travel remains unchanged, as these decisions were made as a response to the global situation at that time. 
  • On June 22, 2020, the US Government extended and expanded on previously issued immigration restrictions to freeze several visa classes until the end of 2020, including the J-class visa. As this is a fluid situation with several implications and interpretations, we will continue to monitor advisories and seek counsel to determine what the impact may be on future work terms. 

The University continues to monitor GAC travel restrictions. If the University lifts this current travel ban and the GAC’s location-specific travel advisories are relaxed prior to the start of the Winter 2021 work term, we will be in touch with both students and employers.

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Guidelines for international visa students

We know that searching for work can be more challenging in light of COVID-19 related restrictions, particularly for our students who have a complex mix of travel, immigration and legal implications to navigate. If you’re an international visa student, the drop-downs below contain information that will help you with your job search, depending on where you are located and where you are able to work.

Please note: Hiring across borders and jurisdictions can be complicated. We expect that you and your employer will do your due diligence to understand and meet any compliance requirements – not only for your employer’s location, but for your location as well. We cannot consult or advise on local legislation and requirements, so please be sure to do your thorough research and avoid taking risks when it comes to safety and legal concerns. 

As always, review the flexible pathways above for more options that can help you to complete your work term and maintain your degree requirements. If you need help with your co-op work search more generally, please reach out to your co-op advisor and review our job search resources below.

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Guidelines for remote work terms

Given the current situation, we understand that some of our students and employers may prefer to work remotely during their Winter 2021 work term. This is perfectly fine, as long as you and your employer agree and follow the guidelines below. 

Many destinations and jurisdictions require individuals to work in the country/location where the employer is located, or there may be specific regulatory requirements to work across borders that you and/or your employer must understand and comply with.

To ensure you understand an employer’s expectations, it’s important to review job descriptions carefully and ask good questions during interviews so you can make informed and safe employment decisions. It’s also important to be transparent about YOUR location in case there are any implications to your work term (e.g., where you will be located, what are your intentions for the entire work term, whether travel or a quarantine period would be required if returning to the employer’s location, any specific legal considerations that should be taken into account, etc.). 

Satisfying these requirements will take additional time and must be completed well in advance of the work term, or your co-op work term may not be approved.

If your job involves remote work, here’s what we expect from both you and your employer in order for your job to be eligible for co-op credit:

  • Students must discuss working remotely from another location/country with employers and ensure that they comply with all jurisdictional requirements for employment in both countries/locations. For all students who are new to working remotely, we’ve put together some tips to help you navigate the transition. You can also read another UWaterloo student's blog on maintaining professionalism while working from home.
  • Employers must investigate any inter-jurisdictional requirements and restrictions (e.g., payroll, taxes, workplace insurance, etc.) and meet any regulation compliance and manage risks for the location the student is in.  Jurisdictional requirements and restrictions may vary by location.
    • We’ve collected some key questions that employers should consider when hiring a student who will be working remotely from Canada for the duration of the work term. Beyond providing this resource, the University cannot consult or advise in any manner. If your employer has questions, they should seek their own independent legal or expert counsel.

In addition:

  • If you will be working as an independent contractor: You must be physically located in Canada in order for an Independent Contractor job to be eligible for co-op credit.
  • If you are an international visa student working from your home destination: You will need a valid Canadian co-op work permit in order to work for a Canadian employer (learn more).
  • If you will be working for the University of Waterloo: You must be physically located in Canada from the start of your work term and for the duration of your work term.

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Job search resources for your Winter 2021 work term

The last day to start work to receive co-op credit is March 8, 2021 for an 8-week work term. Take a deep breath and let that sink in. You have lots of time!

The recruiting period for the Winter 2021 work term has been extended as some employers may need more time to make their hiring decisions. Employers will be posting jobs throughout the recruiting term, so keep applying until you have a match! Whether you end up finding a job at the start of the term or later in the recruitment process, great jobs will be available and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

To increase your chances of finding a job, here are some things you can do:

We understand that this is a challenging and uncertain time for everyone, including our students. We know that your academics and co-op experiences are important and meaningful to you, as every class and work term brings exciting new experiences and challenges that help you grow both personally and professionally.

If you are feeling anxious or uncertain while you are searching for a job or on a work term, please feel free to reach out to your co-op advisor, or a career advisor if you’re going into your first work term. We have designated co-op student mental health advisors on every regional team across Canada (10 advisors today) to help support you no matter what time zone you’re currently in. These advisors works directly with our central Campus Wellness team to ensure you can access the best resources for your situation. 

You can also access resources through Campus Wellness such as Empower Me, a confidential mental health and wellness service that students can access 24/7, 365 days a year by phone, video, online or in-person sessions.